All living creatures are in a constant interchange with their environment both physically and behaviorally. Stress is a normal part of daily life as well as it is a fact of physics. All form (energy) is in constant interchange with all other forms in their environment.

Stress is thought of in negative terms because of the seeming overabundance of stress in modern life. Especially living in a city as diversified and busy as New York City.

Stress is related to both external and internal factors. External stress factors include the physical environment: jobs, relationships with others, your home, including all the challenges, situations, emotions, expectations experienced daily. Internal stress factors determine the body’s ability to respond to, and deal with, the external factors causing stress in our lives.

It is extremely important to consider the overall health from a lifestyle point of view in determining the individual’s ability to handle stress. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese medicine can balance the energies and build up the individuals’ resistance in coping with stress both physically and emotionally. Therefore creating a stronger constitution that is resistant to disease and emotional problems.

Elyse Josephs, L.Ac., Dipl. OM

Stress: What is it?

Although we all talk about stress, it often isn’t clear what stress is really about. Many people consider stress to be something that happens to them, an event such as an injury or a promotion. Others think that stress is what happens to our bodies, minds and behaviours in response to an event (e.g. heart pounding, anxiety, or nail biting). While stress does involve events and our response to them, these are not the most important factors. Our thoughts about the situations in which we find ourselves a re the critical factor. When something happens to us, we automatically evaluate the situation mentally. We decide if it is threatening to us, how we need to deal with the situation, and what skills we can use. If we decide that the demands of the situation outweigh the skills we have, then we label the situation as “stressful” and react with the classic “stress response”. If we decide that our coping skills outweigh the demands of the situation, then we don’t see it as “stressful”. Everyone sees situations differently and has different coping skills. For this reason, no two people will respond exactly the same way to a given situation. Additionally, not all situations that are labelled “stressful” are negative. The birth of a child, being promoted or moving to a new home may not be perceived as threatening. However, we may feel that situations are “stressful” because we don’t feel fully prepared to deal with them. Some situations in life are stress-provoking, but it is our thoughts about situations that determine whether they are a problem to us. How we perceive a stress-provoking event and how we react to it determines its impact on our health. We may be motivated and invigorated by the events in our lives, or we may see some as “stressful” and respond in a manner that may have a negative effect on our physical, mental and social well-being. If we we always respond in a negative way our health and happiness may suffer. By understanding ourselves and our reactions to stress-provoking situations, we can learn to handle stress more effectively. We hope that this booklet will help you to build better coping skills for managing stress.

Canadian Mental Health Association

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